Everybody has their own idea of what they consider necessary hygiene practices in their home.
For instance, some people insist that hands must be washed upon entering the kitchen, while others are a bit more laid-back.
Some Families Wear Shoes Indoors
Certain people draw the line at wearing shoes indoors while other families will say, “Don’t worry about your shoes!”
It raises interesting questions about why some people are so picky, and whether they may be onto something.
Shoes And Clothes Could Possibly Introduce Bacteria Into Your Home
For some people, if the clothing they wore outside comes into contact with their “inside” furniture or bedding, it can become a real-life nightmare.
Part of the reason is that they are wary of the potential bacteria and germs that could come into the home on their clothing.
Is It Considered “Unhygienic”? An Expert Answers
So how unhygienic is it to actually wear clothing outdoors and then sit on the couch or climb into bed?
A specialist disease expert from the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences named Dr. Thomas A. Russo explained the science of it to SELF and we’re breaking down the most important details.
“The Risk Isn’t Zero, But The Risk Is Very Low” —Dr. Russo
Dr. Russo says that while our clothes could possibly play a small role in transmitting pathogens, it is not often harmful unless certain conditions are met.
For instance, if you wear clothing that has come into contact with an illness-causing pathogen (like a flu virus), you would have to touch the exact spot of the clothing that was affected, within a certain time period, and then immediately touch your eyes or mouth.
Some Clothing Particles Can Even “Trap” Particles
While the likelihood of bringing a potentially viral pathogen into your home on your clothing is quite small, it is not impossible.
Certain viruses or bacteria only need a small presence to infect someone, while others require a larger amount of “infecting microbes.” Dr. Russo adds that some clothing fibers can even act to “trap” some particles, keeping them from spreading to your hands.
There Are Some Things You Can Do To Minimize The Risk
So don’t panic if you’ve come home from the market and plopped on the couch—it’s probably no big deal!
However, if you’re still skeptical, Dr. Russo says there are some practices you can put in place to make sure that every precaution is taken.
Hand Washing Is The Most Important Way To Control Bacteria
He says you can manage the small risk associated with wearing “outside clothes” on your indoor furniture by maintaining good hand hygiene.
Dr. Russo adds that most pathogens are introduced to the body by contaminated hands making contact with the mouth, eyes, and nose area.
Your Shoes Are Most Likely To Track Pathogens Into The Home
As far as items that are most likely to bring potential pathogens or bacteria into your home, the thing to watch out for is your shoes.
Studies have shown that shoes are capable of transmitting all sorts of nasty things ranging from dog poop to spit on the street. So keep that in mind when planning where to leave your shoes!
If You Have Allergies, You Could Be Bringing Allergens Into The Home On Your Clothing
Immunologists advise that common allergens (like dust, pollen, and pet dander) can easily hitchhike a ride on our clothing.
If you have allergies, it’s a good idea to have a designated spot in your home where you can immediately strip off and deposit any contaminated clothing. This includes hats, jackets, and sunglasses.
Hats, Sunglasses, And Masks Can Protect Against Local Allergens
Pollen can also easily get on your skin and in your hair or eyebrows. Wearing a hat and sunglasses can help lower the chances of this happening.
Wearing a mask for yard work can also help. Some experts even recommend washing your hair after being outside when the pollen count is high to avoid the pollen transferring to your pillows or furniture.
Vacuum Your Fabric Furniture At Least Weekly
If you have fabric furniture in your home, it’s good practice to vacuum regularly (at least once a week) to eliminate potentially harmful particles.
There are also disinfectant fabric sprays if you really want to take it up a level.
Always Be Extra Cautious If You Spend Time In A High-Risk Environment (Like A Hospital)
Long story short, the odds of you tracking in a harmful pathogen on your clothing is highly unlikely, but not impossible.
Always be sure to swap your “outside” clothing if you work in a high-risk environment such as a hospital or public space. According to the experts, leaving your shoes at the door and washing your hands often is the best way to protect yourself.